Tresha is a woman of many talents. Photographer turned educator, Tresha defies the tradition of working a 9 to 5 to only afford the bills by living her life to enjoy it. She believes that life in itself should be a journey of different interests and opportunities. She pushes herself past her fears and failures to find genuine pleasure in her life which has led her to moving to Istanbul, Turkey.
Find out what she does and how she does it below!
Name: Tresha Buckle
Current Job Title: English Teacher
Current Company: English Time in Istanbul, Turkey
School: Rutgers University
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Art and Psychology
Hometown: I was born in Jamaica but moved to New Jersey at the age of 7 and I lived there majority of my life
Undergraduate Major: Art (concentration in photography) and Psychology
Why did you choose the college you went to?
There wasn’t a particular college I was interested in. I applied to one college and said “yeah, they’ll take me.” For me, it was about the major because I really wanted to be an artist so once I saw Rutgers University had an art program I applied.
How did you pay for college? Specific scholarships or grants?
Definitely through grants and loans. There would have been no way I could have finished college without that. I can’t remember the specific names, but they were regular grants that you get for being a low-income student and going to school in your hometown.
Walk us through what it was like to open a photography studio?
So as I mentioned, I did try to start my own photo studio; however, it was not successful monetarily. A lot of people loved the idea of it – especially when I would put my work on display – but when it came time to pay for my services, no one wanted to pay for it. So, in the end, it turned out to be too difficult to pursue but I really enjoyed the process during that stage in my life.
So, do you have any experience that helped you become an educator?
Well, I worked for the children’s ministry at my church back when I lived the United States but besides that, I teach English abroad mostly because I love to travel. In my head, I had decided teaching english abroad would allow me to travel, make money, and make new friends so I decided to go for it despite my lack of experience.
Did you work during college? What was your first job out of college?
I did a lot of work study jobs while I was in school so I worked at the libraries on campus and different school organizations. I worked part-time and my paychecks helped offset tuition. Immediately after I graduated from Rutgers, I moved to Atlanta, Georgia and started working at a doctor’s office. It was a very random job opportunity – my mother saw her doctor’s office was looking for a receptionist and recommended me for the job. It wasn’t anything that I really wanted to do but it paid so I worked there for a while.
What’s your favorite college memory?
Just meeting new people! I loved the people I went to school with because it was a huge campus and a lot of my friends were local but had so many different majors and personalities. I had friends who were doing engineering and all sorts of hard math, and then I had art friends who were really creative. I really enjoyed getting to know different types of people.
What is a typical workday like for you?
Usually my day starts at 10:00 am and I’m done by 10:00 pm. I have 2 three-hour classes – one in the morning from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, and one in the evening from 7:00pm to 10:00 pm. During the six hour break in between both sessions, I also provide private, one-hour classes and I usually try to schedule at least five private lessons a week.
I start class off by talking with students – I usually ask them “how was there day yesterday” and “what they did.” From there we move on to our textbook because I’m teaching them how to take the TOEFL english language test so we do a lot of reading and asking questions. Most of the day I’m talking and interacting with people which I love to do so I really enjoy my work.
Right now it’s really interesting because in Turkey it’s the Ramadan season so the students are fasting all day, from sunrise to sunset. So at about 8:40 pm we’ll all eat together and they always share their food with me. I’m trying many different foods and getting a lot of new soup and bread recipes.
Unconventional or Conventional career path? Explain.
I’m kind of unconventional as a person, which I’ve had to get used to because for a long time I felt like I was not together. Everybody else had their paths straight and they knew what they wanted to do and I had no idea for a long time, even after graduating college. And I felt bad about this because I thought I was supposed to be a certain way but I had to teach myself to just do what I enjoy. For example, I teach English now and I’m going to teach maybe a few more years and travel to new places but I know I don’t want to teach for the rest of my life.
I’m just interested in a lot of different things. When I first got out of school, I did “the job” – the 9 to 5, 40 hours a week, and it was too conservative and boring. I made a lot of money and it was good but I was bored everyday and my heart wasn’t in it so now, I’m just focused on doing things that I enjoy.
Ok, so walk us through Tresha’s career journey?
My first official job was at Banana Republic. I went to college and worked a couple on-campus jobs – student libraries, bookstores, day care centers, etc. Then when I graduated, I left New Jersey, and moved to Atlanta where I worked at a doctor’s office for about 2 years. While there, I tried to do the whole “own your own business thing” by opening up a photography studio but that didn’t quite work out. Soon after, I left the doctor’s office and worked as a nanny. I loved it but it was hard to deal with the parents so I ended up moving on to the Salvation Army where I worked as a cashier before I moved to Istanbul, Turkey to teach english.
Has being Black affected your career? If so, how?
I’m sure it has but it hasn’t been anything blatant. It’s more that I’m a woman, especially here in Turkey. For example, we had an opportunity to work with a person from one of the big corporations here because he needed a tutor for English and they originally assigned me to the position. But it ended up not working out because they said women don’t make good teachers. That was there official response so I couldn’t do it because I was a woman.
Has being black affected you living in Turkey?
Definitely, but not in a bad way – they really like black people here. It’s kind of an odd, reverse way of thinking as compared to the U.S. and people are genuinely friendly and nice. I know it depends on where you go in different countries but I’ve been really lucky in that I haven’t had my blackness stop me from doing anything here.
What substantial moment marked your greatest career highlight?
The most important, defining moment in my career was when I decided to do actually come to Turkey to teach english. To actually say yes, I’m going to go and then to buy the plane ticket and then to leave the country was big for me. It opened up a lot of possibilities in my mind. It really showed me I can do whatever I want and that all the ideas I had for my life were actually really possible. That was eye opening for me.
How did you even hear about the program in Turkey and then actually go on to apply for it?
I learned about it in church, as I learn most things. We were having a class on financial literacy and the different ways to pay back loans. One of the things they suggested was teaching – teaching abroad specifically – because there were and are so many job opportunities and benefits available. I began thoroughly researching it and found that different companies would pay to send me to a foreign country, give me somewhere to live, provide me a salaried job, and all I had to do was speak English. And to this I said, of course, why would I not do it!
What’s been your most difficult obstacle in this job?
I think it has been the difference between the standards of professionalism here and what I was accustomed to in the United States. For example, some of the students in my classroom don’t have books which is frustrating because they pay top dollars to take my course and therefore, I feel they should have certain materials. I can speak proper English and I am confident that I can teach English but when I lack standard supplies, I get really confused and upset. And I don’t want to come off as a diva by saying “I can’t teach like this” but in my head I’m like, it’s simple – you’re a school, the students give you money, give them books.
How I would deal with this in the U.S. would be to go talk to a supervisor but in Turkey this presents a completely different challenge because the staff doesn’t speak english. So even trying to get small tasks done leads me into a frenzy of frustration. And I always try to channel my anger in a productive way because I can be angry and I’ve been angry and yelled at them but it doesn’t always produce anything. So yes, I feel better because I got a chance to vent and blow off steam but my students still don’t have books. Thus, really differentiating between what’s actually going to be helpful while working in Turkey verses what I feel in the moment has been one of my biggest challenges.
What advice would you give your undergraduate self?
I would tell myself to go ahead and do whatever it is I’m thinking of doing – if it works out, it works out; if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Nothing I’m thinking of doing will be the end of the world so don’t be so afraid to try. In college, I remember trying to force myself to plan and have backup plans to my plans, even though I wasn’t a natural planner, and that caused me to hesitate a lot. Now looking back, I realize I missed out on a lot of things because of that.
Coffee or Tea?
Tea – my favorite type is Indian Chai tea.
Favorite nail color?
I ALWAYS enjoy the French manicure look.
#TeamNatural or #TeamRelaxed?
Best advice you’ve ever received?
While I was in Atlanta and complaining about my job at the doctor’s office, a friend provided me some sound advice. He said, “what you want to be doing is always running toward something and not be running away from something”. It was fine to leave my job because I was unhappy but I needed to have a goal – not just trying to get out of this job but really moving toward something better.
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be?
Angelina Jolie because she stole my life. I was going to marry Brad Pitt and adopt a bunch of children from all over the world and travel. That’s literally exactly what I was going to do. lol. But seriously, I also think she’s beautiful and she’s a very interesting person. I feel like we only get a small glimpse of her from what she allows the media to see but I’d like to know so much more.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I love shopping. My favorite store in Turkey is Zara. It definitely cost too much but they have quality items.
Thank Tresha for helping us to inspire and empower!